Toothless England relegated from Nations League after defeat in Italy

England suffered the ignominy of relegation from the Nations League’s prime tier after a tepid defeat to Italy that raises additional concern forward of the winter World Cup.

Among the many favourites to triumph in Qatar having reached the semi-finals 4 years in the past and the Euro 2020 last, issues have gone awry for Gareth Southgate’s facet of late.

England didn’t win any of their 4 June fixtures and produced a meek response to their 4-0 Molineux mauling in opposition to Hungary, with Giacomo Raspadori sealing Roberto Mancini’s Italy a 1-0 victory on Friday night time.

A fifth straight match and not using a win means Southgate’s males have been relegated from Group A of the Nations League – a contest they completed third in three years in the past – with a sport to spare.

Demotion is embarrassing however the efficiency is arguably of extra concern given it’s simply 59 days till their World Cup opener in opposition to Iran.

The Euro 2020 finalists had performed out a forgettable goalless draw behind closed doorways in June and the primary half in Milan by some means managed to be much more dreary as England toiled in opposition to the absentee-hit Azzurri.

It didn’t get any higher from the guests’ perspective as Italy, who is not going to be in Qatar, saved them at bay and secured victory by Raspadori’s effective effort.

Southgate’s facet lacked the ruthlessness referred to as for on the eve of a San Siro encounter that ends with extra questions than solutions, with simply Monday’s dwelling match in opposition to Germany to return earlier than the World Cup.

Bukayo Saka, named England males’s participant of the yr earlier within the day, was deployed at left wing-back at San Siro, the place Eric Dier gained his first cap since November 2020 amongst six alterations from the Hungary humbling.

Harry Maguire was one other introduced in and the out-of-favour Manchester United captain’s identify was sung by the 4,415 travelling followers in an expression of help that adopted Southgate’s public backing on Thursday.

The 29-year-old settled after a shaky begin as Italy started on the entrance foot, with Gianluca Scamacca all too simply beating him to a deep Federico Dimarco cross from the suitable.

A mixture of Nick Pope, deputising for the injured Jordan Pickford, and the woodwork denied the West Ham striker’s highly effective header at his close to publish earlier than the frontman struck broad from distance.

England quelled that storm and started to get pleasure from intervals of possession, albeit with out injecting creativity and pleasure into their play.

Cumbersome with the ball, there was valuable little to notice by way of probabilities past Jude Bellingham’s strike into the bottom and Harry Kane lashing over from distance.

Fortunately there was no further time on the finish of a wretched first half.

Dier produced an essential block and Reece James woefully overhit a well-placed free-kick after Leonardo Bonucci had tripped Raheem Sterling on the sting of the field.

Phil Foden threw his arms within the air in frustration as Kane took a shot from an acute angle when he was free on the again publish because the guests’ disjointed show continued.

England have been lucky {that a} combination of the offside flag and Nicolo Barella’s poor ending prevented them falling behind within the 57th minute after Dimarco was put free to ship a pinpoint cross to the far publish.

Play had now turn into ragged and stretched, swinging from finish to finish with out a lot high quality. Rafael Toloi prevented Saka reaching a Kane cross earlier than substitute Wilfried Gnonto’s fierce drive pressured a effective block.

The impasse was lastly damaged within the 68th minute because the Azzurri struck.

Bonucci’s lengthy ball put Raspadori in behind Kyle Walker, with the ahead protecting his cool earlier than sending a stunning strike past Pope from simply contained in the field.

Kane pressured Gianluigi Donnarumma right into a double save as England hunted a leveller, with former Southampton ahead Manolo Gabbiadini seeing a shot saved by Pope on the different finish earlier than Dimarco’s cross-shot hit a publish.

Declan Rice noticed a hopeful stoppage-time effort saved and Bellingham headed over as Italy noticed out victory, leaving the travelling hordes audibly annoyed at full-time.

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